SiteGround is one of the largest web hosting providers in the world. It hosts more than two million websites. SiteGround doesn’t run its own infrastructure. Instead, this web hosting service rents space on Google cloud servers to host its customer’s websites.
- Hosting solutions: Shared hosting plans, WordPress site hosting, VPS hosting, reseller hosting packages, and cloud hosting (dedicated servers)
- Bonuses: Free domain name for the first year (with annual plans)
- SSL certificate: Free SSL certificate for all hosted websites from Let’s Encrypt
- Apps: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, Magento
- Customer support: 24/7 SiteGround support team. Priority support for managed packages
- Refund policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
- Uptime guarantee: 99.9 percent
- Control panel: Custom user console, called Site Tools, leading to cPanel
- Content delivery network (CDN): Cloudflare CDN included for free
- Cheapest hosting plan: $6.99 per month, renews at $15.99 per month
- Run on Google infrastructure
- Free web application firewall and DDoS protection
- Uptime guarantee backed with refunds
- One-click app installer
- Six server locations /data centers around the world
- Supercacher NGINX system to speed up response times
- Integration with Git (GitHub) with the GoGeek plan
- Free on-demand and automated daily backups
- Linux servers
- Single website hosting plan option with 10 GB of storage
- Shared plans for unlimited websites with 20 GB or 40 GB of disk space
- Unlimited data transfers on all shared plans
- Unlimited email accounts on all shared hosting plans
- Unlimited subdomains on all hosting packages
- Unlimited MySQL databases and FTP accounts
- PHP 7 and HTTP/2 technology
- SSH access
- Very fast load times
- Specialist WordPress plans available
- Apps installer
- SSD disk drives
- Free automated WordPress website migration
- Free WordPress plugins, including WooCommerce
- Free Weebly website builder
- Doesn’t accept PayPal
- No free domain name offer
- Domain name fees are very high
- Disk space allocated to each plan is small
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Founded in Bulgaria, Europe in 2004,. SiteGround runs six data centers in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Lindon, UK, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Frankfurt, Germany, Singapore, and Sydney, Australia.
SiteGround shared hosting plans and pricing
The quickest way for a small business owner to set up a website is to use a content management system (CMS). The most widely used CMS is WordPress. SiteGround offers specialized WordPress hosting packages. However, these are just the web hosting company’s standard share hosting plans recategorized.
Shared hosting means that several customers have hosting accounts on the same server. The three shared hosting plans of SiteGround are:
- StartUp: host one website; 10 GB disk space
- GrowBig: host unlimited websites; 20 GB disk space
- GoGeek: host unlimited websites; 40 GB disk space
Hosting account holders who keep adding sites will find that these hosting packages do have a limit on the number of websites that they will host once they run out of disk space.
Plan length prices
The headline price for each plan is given as a price per month. However, this is misleading because the plans get cheaper when calculated on a monthly basis with longer subscription periods. The user has to pay for the entirety of the plan length upfront.
Here are the prices for each plan (followed by per month):
- 1 month — $19.99 ($19.99)
- 12 months — $83.88 ($6.99)
- 24 months — $239.76 ($9.99)
- 36 months — $377.64 ($10.49)
- 1 month — $29.99 ($29.99)
- 12 months — $119.88 ($9.99)
- 24 months — $359.76 ($14.99)
- 36 months — $629.64 ($17.49)
- 1 month — $44.99 ($44.99)
- 12 months — $179.88 ($14.99)
- 24 months — $599.76 ($24.99)
- 36 months — $1,007.64 ($27.99)
There are also add-ons for purchase.
SiteGround plan renewal prices
The renewal price when calculated monthly is the same for each plan length within each hosting package type, except for the 1-month subscription, which isn’t discounted in the first place and remains the same price on renewal.
So, for example, the StartUp plan costs 12 x $14.99 when renewed for a year, 24 x $15.99 when extended for two years, and 36 x $14.99 when renewed for three years.
- StartUp: $539.64 ($14.99 per month)
- GrowBig: $899.64 ($24.99 perf month)
- GoGeek: $1,439.64 ($39.99 per month)
No matter which plan length is selected, the associated domain name will need to be renewed every year.
The extras available on a subscription are also only charged for by the year, so the three-year plan will still have charges at the end of the first and second years.
Domain name registration prices
Despite not running a separate domain name registration service, SiteGround does require that each hosting account includes at least one domain.
At the point of signing up for a web hosting plan, the customer must either already have a domain to transfer to the hosting service or buy a domain.
Domain sales are a pass-through to Tucows, Inc, which is the real domain name registrar used by SiteGround.
The addition of the domain jacks up the price of a SiteGround hosting package and needs to be accounted for when comparing prices with hosting plans offered by rival web hosting providers.
The domain name price varies according to its TLD. The TLD is the last part of a domain name after the final dot (“.”), such as “.com” and it stands for “top-level domain.”
Here is the SiteGround domain name price list per year, followed by renewal price:
- .agency — $17.95, $25.95
- .biz — $17.95
- .blog — $34.95
- .clothing — $27.95, $35.95
- .co — $29.95
- .com — $15.95
- .company — $17.95, $25.95
- .expert — $45.95, $70.95
- .graphics — $19.95, $25.95
- .info — $17.95
- .me — $19.95
- .net — $17.95
- .online — $15.95, $39.95
- .org — $17.95
- .photography — $19.95, $25.95
- .pro — $17.95
- .shoes — $49.95
- .shop — $15.95, $39.95
- .solutions — $19.95, $25.95
- .tips — $17.95, $25.95
- .training — $25.95, $40.95
- .us — $17.95
- .vacations — $25.95, $40.95
SiteGround offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee.
When reading the fine print of most plans, the majority of web hosting companies don’t actually back their “guarantee” with any compensation if downtime exceeds promises. SiteGround is one of the few web hosting services that does give financial compensation for failing to meet its uptime pledge.
If a server operated by SiteGround fails the 99.9 percent uptime target over a year, customers on that server get a credit for one month’s service for free. The year in which the failure occurred must be within the period of the hosting account subscription. (That means that it would be impossible for a monthly subscriber to ever claim compensation.)
If downtime during the year brings down the total annual uptime to lower than 99 percent, affected customers get two months for free and then an extra month for each percent below 98 percent.
We checked the loading speed of a WordPress site hosted on a SiteGround StartUp plan by loading a sample page of text as a WordPress post on the new WordPress site.
Load time tests were performed with the Google web developer diagnostic tool, PageSpeed Insights. This service scores the load speed of a page, testing for delivery to mobile devices and to desktops.
The performance of the delivery to a mobile device from SiteGround was categorized as High.
Mobile devices are difficult to deliver to and Google usually records much lower loading speeds vs. desktops. A score of 95 to a mobile device is very good.
The Speed Index value is the most important metric in this test for response times. The loading speed of 3.1 seconds beats the speed of GoDaddy (7.5 seconds), Hostinger (9.9 seconds) and Bluehost (8.2 seconds) to deliver the same page.
The test results when requesting the same page from a desktop were even better.
The overall score of 99 is just about as good as any web host could get. As a comparison, GoDaddy got a score of 58 to deliver the same page.
The Speed Index time of 1.2 seconds beat GoDaddy (1.9 seconds), Hostinger (3.2 seconds), and Bluehost (2.8 seconds).
SiteGround’s shared web hosting packages are more expensive than those offered by these three big rivals. For a typical website, the speed difference isn’t that important and the price will be the deciding factor. But for media companies that want image-rich pages with lots of video content, SiteGround is the obvious choice.
A shared hosting service puts several customers on the same server. This could create a security problem because any single user that could get down to the operating system would be able to access the file directories of other accounts.
SiteGround creates a double lock to prevent cross-account security breaches. The account environment is impossible to break out of and the operating system services required for each user are bundled into a system called a Linux Container, or LXC. This seals each user into a virtually separate operating system.
Each account gets a free SSL certificate from Let’s Encrypt. Unlike some providers, SiteGround uses wildcard SSL certificates on its multi-site hosting plans, so any site set up in that account is covered vs. needing to buy a new SSL certificate for each new domain. The SSL certificate is already active and applied as soon as the account is set up.
Free security procedures, such as system backups, are included with all hosting packages. Security software applied to the whole server includes a web application firewall and malware protection.
Standard operating procedures prevent DDoS attacks.
A content delivery network (CDN) is available for a fee on shared hosting plans.
An optional security extra is the SG Site Scanner. This is an intrusion detection system that will alert you if any unauthorized access occurs in your website’s file space. This costs $19.80 per year.
The email systems of SiteGround account holders are automatically protected by SolarWinds Spam Experts for free. This not only protects accounts from receiving spam, it prevents account holders from sending out spam. Many domains hosted by other web hosting services find it almost impossible to deliver meaningful emails due to other account holders flooding the world with Spam, getting that IP address blacklisted by spam filters around the globe.
Domain owner privacy
The name and address of each domain’s owner is available to the public in the WHOIS database. SiteGround offers a domain privacy service, which substitutes the details of a nominee company for the real owner’s information. This is an expensive service, however, costing $12 for the first year and $24 per year thereafter.
How to set up WordPress in a SiteGround account
After setting up an account, you need to verify your phone number and email address before your account is active.
Next, an email verification process for the domain name owner’s details has to take place.
Finally, the new domain owner has to fill in a consent form for Tucows, Inc., the domain provider.
With all of those approvals completed, the new account holder can go to the my.siteground.com site and create a website. (Note that verification takes time to feed through.)
To create a WordPress site, press the big red button in the account Home screen.
Before creating the site, SiteGround will encourage you to buy a few extras. Just press the Finish button. The site creation process takes about two minutes to process.
SiteGround customer support
The Contact Us tab has three options:
- Technical Assistance
- Advanced Technical Help
- Billing Support
When the user clicks on one of these buttons, more options are presented. For example, the Technical Assistance button leads to a list of topics. Selecting a topic brings up a contact form.
On checking the user’s inquiry, the system will then offer the option of a live chat session and also show the Help Center phone number.
Both the live chat system and phone support have a queuing system. When we tried the Customer Support service, the chat system had a quicker response time, which was almost instant.